How to Prepare Your Vehicle for Self-Storage

Not all of us have the option of storing our vehicles in an enclosed garage, but many of us do need to store our vehicles when they are out of season. Self-storage options are the best ways to store your vehicle, and there are a few options for how to do so.

Here, we look at the options available to you for storing your vehicle, as well as some helpful tips on how to prepare your vehicle for self-storage.

Self-Storage Options

Outdoor storage

Of course, outdoor storage is your most economical self-storage option. Typically, such storage is contained in a secure parking area. The first thing you should look into if you are considering outdoor storage is the security features of the facility. Be sure the area is secure, well-lit, and that there are little to no potential hazards, such as large trees or the potential for flooding.

If you are going this route, then be sure to give your vehicle a good wash and wax before storing it, and then cover your vehicle to offer added protection from the elements and to prevent rust. Also, be sure that the vehicle is locked, and the windows and sunroofs are shut.

Covered storage

There are a number of types of covered storage available for vehicles. Carports offer protection from above; large warehouses offer fully-enclosed protection. Both are secure and in shared spaces, so you do need to consider the same things as outdoor storage (stated above) if you are planning to go this route.

Private storage options are available in the form of shipping containers and self-storage units. These options allow you to have full control in that you have a lock and key to your own space. These provide the added benefit of space around the vehicle for the storage of extra items if you have them.

(See the Real Storage options for vehicle self-storage here.)

Preparation for Various Types of Vehicles

Preparing cars, motorcycles, and ATVs for self-storage

Besides the obvious clean and wax of your vehicle, when storing cars, motorcycles, and ATVs, it is best to get them serviced before putting them into any long-term storage (3 months or more). Replacing all fluids, such as the coolant, brake fluid, oil, and transmission fluid, is important to keep your vehicle ready to operate at the end of its storage term. Old fluids that remain stagnant will have contaminants sitting around with it, which could cause damage to your engine, or make it difficult to start after waiting around so long.

We would suggest disconnecting your battery as well, as the battery will continue to be drained by the electronics of the vehicle. The battery should be stored elsewhere, in a dry and cool place off of any concrete, in order to prevent it from cracking. Do check the owner’s manual as well for any other precautions.

Preparing boats for self-storage

If you are storing a boat, the first thing you need to do is give the inside of the boat a solid clean. Be sure to remove any items, such as fishing gear, that could leave an odour. Cleaning the interior will prevent unwanted smells, but what is most important is to ensure everything is completely dry: if you leave surfaces wet after cleaning them, or leave items such as swimming gear in the boat and wet, then they will not only attract odours, but also mould.

Like cars, motorcycles and ATVs, boats also need a good clean of their exterior before putting them into self-storage. Hosing down your boat with a power washer is the best first step here. This will remove any unwanted debris, and, most importantly, any salt residues, which could harm your boat if it sits there for too long. Next, wash it with a specialised boat cleaner to remove all grime, and finish with a boat protector solution.

Like other vehicles, it is a good idea to change the fuels in your boat before storing it. Make sure the boat’s engine is full of fuel, and do remove the battery as well. Finally, it is always important to cover your boat when putting it into self-storage. We suggest avoiding plastics that can trap moisture, but if you are storing your boat outside, plastic may still be the best option. Speak to your boat mechanic for further advice.

(See more on the Real Storage options for storing boats here.)

Preparing RVs for self-storage

Everything that we have said for the above vehicle types stands here as well, but, with a RV, there is always more to the story. Be sure you remove any and all food from the vehicle, and dry out the inside of fridges and freezers, leaving their doors ajar to prevent mould growth. Adding a box of baking soda in the fridge and/or freezer will help absorb any excess moisture.

Cleaning the inside of your RV means vacuuming the entire interior: you do not want to leave any bits of food in the sofa or bed that could attract rodents or pests.

As above, you will also want to clean the exterior of your RV, and ensure that it is locked well. But with an RV, you do want to leave your vents open so as to allow for air circulation inside. This will help avoid any unpleasant odours.

Just as a boat or car, disconnect the battery while the RV is in storage.

(See more on the Real Storage options for storing RVs here.)

Tips for all vehicles

Finally, for all of the above vehicles we have discussed here, it is best to ensure the following. Leave no valuables behind in the vehicle. Check the vehicle’s paper work – will it remain under insurance while in storage? Will you need to renew the insurance during the vehicle’s life in storage? Lastly, plan to check on your vehicle, and even start the vehicle (if possible) every month or so to keep batteries operational and fluids circulating.

If you have further questions or concerns about storing your vehicle, speak with your Real Storage agent today.